Simmons First to Buy Delta Trust for $66M

by Mark Friedman and Lance Turner  on Monday, Mar. 24, 2014 3:45 pm  

J. French Hill

"We're not going to sit on the sidelines," he said. "We're going to continue to move forward."

Makris said there are other Arkansas banks that would fit into Simmons' strategy. He added that "we would really like to focus on out-of-state markets to fill in some of that footprint in Missouri and Kansas." Simmons has said before that it also wants to expand its presence in central and northwest Arkansas.

"There are a lot of privately held [banks] who quite honestly are getting sort of tired of the regulatory burden that they're having to go through," Makris said.

Those banks might be looking to sell, he said.

Simmons First National Corp. is a $4.4 billion based financial holding company with operations in Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. It currently has 111 total branch offices, but 27 of those are closing as Simmons assimilates the Metropolitan operation. Simmons First National Corp. has also announced a plan to consolidate its seven separate bank charters under the single charter of Simmons First National Bank.

On the Market

There’s been an appetite for selling at Delta.

As Arkansas Business previously reported, former USA Drug owner Steven LaFrance Sr., his family and others were working to assemble a controlling stake in Delta Trust last year before LaFrance’s death in June. But the parties couldn’t agree on a price.

Arkansas Business reported in February that Simmons First and Delta Trust were in talks and that a deal was coming. At the time, Hill would not comment. David Garner, Simmons’ executive vice president and spokesman, said it was "totally a rumor" that Simmons was buying Delta.

The deal comes as Hill, the founding chief executive officer of the $431.4 million-asset lender, runs for the Republican nomination for Arkansas’ 2nd District seat in Congress. 

That seat is in play after incumbent Republican Tim Griffin decided not to seek re-election. Griffin is running for lieutenant governor.



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